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Montana State Library, other state agencies recovering from Helena flooding

State Library Flooding
Posted at 6:57 PM, Jul 05, 2022

HELENA — Some state agencies were dealing with significant impacts to their Helena offices Tuesday, after flash flooding over the weekend.

The most notable damage was to the Montana State Library, which has space on two floors of the Mazurek Justice Building on Sanders Street. During a library commission meeting Tuesday, state librarian Jennie Stapp said a storm drain on the roof of the building failed. She said they saw around two inches of standing water on the main level, with water reaching about three-quarters of their offices. In several areas, ceiling tiles cracked and broke under the weight of water.

“Given the scale of the flooding, for us to be able to continue our services, have this meeting as planned, etc., I think is incredibly remarkable,” Stapp said.

Some of the most significant damage was in the area that houses the Montana Talking Book Library, which provides audio books for people with low vision. Stapp said they recently completed a contract with the Utah State Library for the Blind and Disabled to assist with talking book services, partially because they realized that they had a “single point of failure” in their current system.

“If we had not entered into the contract with the state of Utah, we would not be operating our Talking Book program at this time,” she said.

Stapp said staff have come in to gather personal items and equipment they need for work, and most should be able to work remotely by Wednesday. At that point, a restoration company will come in to begin drying the areas out.

The Montana Department of Corrections also saw flooding impacts at its offices on Last Chance Gulch. State workers have been in the building over the holiday weekend to clear out water on the first floor. A DOC spokesperson says staff members in the affected areas are working in other offices or at home, but there were no significant impacts to the department’s operations.

The Montana State Capitol was closed on July 4 because of flooding effects, but it was set to reopen on Tuesday.

The Montana Department of Administration’s General Services Division is responsible for managing state buildings in the Capitol area. A department statement says they’re working closely with restoration companies to assess the damage and begin remediation.